Are you ready to rock? If any city was built on rock n roll its Milton Keynes, so it’s appropriate that the smash-hit Rock of Ages is in town. Rock of Ages is the hilarious jukebox musical with over 25 classic rock anthems, including ‘Don’t Stop Believin’, ‘We Built This City’, ‘The Final Countdown’, ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’, ‘Here I Go Again’, ‘Can’t Fight this Feeling’ and ‘I Want To Know What Love Is’, played loudly by an awesome live band.
It’s 1987, we are in Hollywood and Drew works in the Bourbon room, owned by Dennis Dupree, a classic old rocker. Drew falls for Sherrie, who has just arrived in town so he talks Dennis into giving her a job. Dennis is worried for the future of the club so he invites Stacee Jaxx to play his last ever gig there. Stacee agrees after a few blackmail comments involving a llama. Don’t ask! Drew wangles the support slot and gets noticed by a music producer. When Stacee plays the Bourbon room he accidentally sleeps with Sherrie and then gets her fired. He is not a nice rock star. If you find the story a bit convoluted, it is, but don’t worry as Lonny is on hand to help; he is our friendly narrator. He is particularly helpful at the end of act one, coming on with his book, musicals for dummies, and explaining that there is always a moment in a show when things are down, but we should still end on a big number with jazz hands.
Kevin Clifton is best known for being a professional dancer on BBC1's 'Strictly Come Dancing’ where he won four glitter balls. Well Kevin from Grimsby has come a long way. Glitterballs aside, who knew Kevin was a secret rocker? He can sing and I have to say I found him very sexy as Stacee Jaxx. He oozes talent the way he used to drip gemstones. We were blessed to see a few ‘strictly’ steps at curtain call just before he took to the mike to ask us all to tell our friends that theatre is back. Don’t worry Kevin, I’m shouting it out in my best rocker voice!
Joe Gash plays the iconic role of Lonny. Joe will be making his theatre debut in the role but you would never know this unless I told you. Joe was born to play this role. Joe is confident and brazen and I just loved him. If Freddie Mercury and Johnny Depp had a baby it would be Joe’s interpretation of Lonny. Joe has an amazing range and such a stage presence. Joe is going to be a huge star. Remember this review when you’re famous!
Luke Walsh plays Drew. Luke is very talented and gives Drew integrity and makes him likeable. Luke has Billy-Joe hair (Green Day) but don’t let that fool you – Luke is most definitely a rocker and boy can he sing. His emotions in the show are clear and he gives the show its heart. His love interest is Sherrie played by Rhiannon Chesterman. Rhiannon is perfect as innocent Sherrie who has to harden her heart. Her voice is powerful and a good match for all the rocker voices in the show.
Ross Dawes plays Dennis Dupree. Ross had me laughing at ‘Fuckin Cartwheels’ and plays Dennis with such authenticity that I really believed him to be a rocker. I don’t think I can give higher praise than that. Jenny Fitzpatrick plays Justice. Jenny got a round of applause for one note – that’s how good she is. Her voice blew me away. Also, I am not sure if her hair is a weave, a wig or her own, but I want it (and I am famous for my own big hair) – Hell even Ru Paul would want hair that big!
There is almost nothing I don’t love about this show. It is unexpectedly funny. And breaking the fourth wall works perfectly. Lonny interacts with the audience and there is a moment where he explains to another cast member that they are actors in a musical and this is being scripted. It’s so original. I loved when one of his ad-libs said how rubbish the film was. That’s exactly what I think too, but this show rocks!
The cast are all energetic and give it absolutely everything supported by some very talented musicians rocking out at the back of the stage. It is appreciated by the audience who clearly loved coming to the theatre tonight despite the heavy rain and petrol shortages. Everyone had a good time. This is a show full of denim and leather with rock n roll at its heart. It’s truly a fabulous show. So, if you wanna rock get yourself down to the Bourbon room at the MK Theatre.
Rock of Ages is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 2 October.